Improving the safety of fishery observer programmes

On-board Social Accountability (OSA) International and global tuna fisheries

Amount awarded: £40,119 (55,650 USD) 

This project will review fishery observer programmes globally and provide recommendations to ensure observers are working in safe conditions while at-sea.

Fisheries observers are independent specialists who work on fisheries vessels as part of at-sea monitoring programs. Observers collect vital data that are essential for the sustainable management of fisheries, such as recording bycatch.   

But fishing boats can be dangerous workplaces, and observers may find themselves in unsafe conditions with limited options to be rescued or get medical help. In July 2020, the MSC designated £100,000 of the Ocean Stewardship Fund towards improving global best practice to secure a safe working environment for fishery observers. 

This Innovation Fund grant will help identify ineffective policies that may be leading to unsafe observer working conditions and will recommend areas where management could be improved. The review will consider both MSC certified fisheries and non-certified fisheries.   

A second Innovation Fund grant is supporting the development of a new platform for observers to safely communicate with a home base. Coupling new research that considers the perspectives of observers, alongside technology improvements, could contribute to safer working conditions. 

The research will include a number of interviews with both observers and industry representatives to verify their perspectives as well as to help identify gaps in training or guidance. 

Interviews will be conducted with representatives from regional observer programmes within:  

  • The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) 
  • Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) 
  • The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) 
  • The Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) 
  • The South Indian Ocean
  • The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) 
  • The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) 

National observer programmes include:  

  • The Solomon Islands 
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Fiji
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Ecuador
  • Canada 

OSA International’s expert team will recommend a range of options for improvements. The team will use the findings to develop guidelines alongside seafood industry stakeholders.  

The ability of observers to do their job well makes a major contribution to important fishery management information internationally. We are excited to be able to support the MSC to improve the conditions of observers at-sea.

Katharine Short On-Board Social Accountability (OSA) International Ltd

Find out more

Indonesian handline fisher

Our impact projects

Discover projects supported through the Ocean Stewardship Fund that are helping to grow sustainable fishing worldwide.

Discover more
Fisher standing in a boat throwing a net with the sun shining in the background

The Ocean Stewardship Fund

The Ocean Stewardship Fund offers grants to both MSC certified sustainable fisheries and improving fisheries.

Find out more
  • '{{item.Image.Title}}', {{item.Image.Artist}}, {{item.Image.Description}}